Suffolk Punch

The Suffolk Punch is a rare breed of horse that was developed in England, and has been around for centuries.

They are known for their gentle disposition, and strength.

In this blog post, we will discuss the history, characteristics, and uses of the Suffolk Punch.

So if you are considering adding a Suffolk Punch horse to your farm or ranch, then keep reading!

Suffolk Punch Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Suffolk Punch:

Height (size) 15.7 – 17.0 hands high
Colors They come in many different shades of chestnut. White markings are uncommon and often only seen in a few areas on the lower legs and face.
Country of Origin England
Common Uses Draft work, forestry, showing, driving

Suffolk Punch Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

The Origin of the Breed

The breed originates in Suffolk and Norfolk counties in England, where draft horses date back to the early 16th century.

The breed got its name from its place of origin which was the county of Suffolk in East Anglia, and ‘punch’ is an old English word for a short stout person.

The oldest recorded reference of the Suffolk Punch may be found in William Camden’s Britannia, which was originally published in 1586.

In this book, Camden mentions a working horse of the eastern counties of England which is easily recognizable as the Suffolk Punch.

A stallion foaled in 1768 near Woodbridge, and owned by Thomas Crisp of Ufford is recognized as the foundation sire of the breed.

Simply referred to as “Crisp’s horse,” this horse was never named.

At that time the breed was known as the Suffolk Sorrel.

Even though he wasn’t the only foundation stallion, because of the genetic bottleneck, all of the horses in the studbook today can trace their male ancestry back to ‘Crisp’s horse’.

In 1877, the Suffolk Horse Society was established, making it the oldest English breed society. The first edition of the Suffolk stud book was released in 1880.

Because of the area’s seclusion and the great value of Suffolk horses, the breed was kept pure and underwent minimal alteration over the last three hundred years.

Suffolk Punch in the 20th Century

Due to its amiable disposition and great work ethic, the Suffolk Punch had grown to be a well-liked workhorse on big farms in East Anglia by the time of the First World War.

It continued to be popular up until the Second World War, when a combination of factors, including the requirement for increased wartime food production (which led to a large number of horses being sent to slaughterhouses), and increased farm mechanization that followed the war’s decimation of population numbers, caused its decline in use.

With the advent of heavy machinery and the demise of the family sized farm, this breed has steadily become less frequent and more endangered, even though they were once widespread.

The Suffolk is unique among draft breeds in that it was never bred for anything other than agricultural labor over its entire history.

So, the breed still has traits that are useful for this activity, such as the strength and stamina to plow through heavy clay, a willing personality, and qualities that make them economical to keep.

Suffolk Punch Influences on Other Breeds

They are used in crossbreeding to create heavy sport horses for hunter classes and show jumping competitions.

The Suffolk Punch made a major contribution to the development of the Danish Jutland breed.

Additionally, in the 20th century, Suffolks were sent to Pakistan with the purpose of improving indigenous breeds.

In Pakistan, these horses were bred with local horses and donkeys to produce remounts and mules for the military.

Despite their large size, Suffolks have successfully adjusted to the weather conditions in Pakistan, which contributed to the overall success of the program.

Another breed which has been influenced by the Suffolk is the Russian Vladimir Heavy Draft.

A comprehensive genetic analysis reveals that the Suffolk Punch is closely related genetically not just to the Fell and Dales British ponies, but also to the Austrian Haflinger.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names



Gentle disposition

Physical Characteristics

Since the Suffolk Punch was bred more for agricultural labor than for road transport, it has a tendency to be shorter but more powerfully built than other British heavy draft breeds, such as the Clydesdale or the Shire.

The head is big, but elegant with a wide forehead, and convex profile.

The neck is arched. The shoulders are well-muscled, and somewhat upright which makes them suitable for pulling heavy loads rather than for covering a lot of ground.

The back is short, broad, and strong. The croup is muscular and wide.

The legs are short, strong and clean, with board joints and little or no feathering on the fetlocks.

The hooves are well-formed.

The movements are energetic, especially at the trot.

The breed tends to mature quickly, and is long-lived. Suffolk Punch is also economical to keep because it needs less food than other horses of the same size and type.

In the past, the Suffolk was often criticized for having bad feet, since its hooves were too small for its body size.

This issue was resolved when classes at major shows were established in which the shape and structure of hooves were evaluated.

Because of this, the foot conformation of the Suffolk Punch has been improved to the point that it is now regarded as outstanding.


They come in many different shades of chestnut.

Suffolk horse breeders in the United Kingdom use a variety of color designations unique to the breed, such as dark liver, dull dark, red, and bright.

White markings are uncommon and often only seen in a few areas on the lower legs and face.

Height (size)

15.7 – 17.0 hands high






1,600 – 2,100 lbs (720 – 950 kg)

Blood Type


Common Uses

Draft work, forestry, showing, driving



Popular Traits

One of the most powerful of horses


Easy keepers

Country of Origin



Local stock, Norfolk Trotter, Norfolk Cob, later: Thoroughbred